Impeaching Bybee—A Rocky Road | Harper's Magazine

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Impeaching Bybee—A Rocky Road

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Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean takes a look at the calls for impeachment of Jay Bybee, and finds the road is pretty tough. Essentially, Dean believes that Bybee can only be impeached on a conclusion that he committed war crimes. This is not an impossible task given the conclusion in United States v. Altstoetter that legal memo writers can also be war criminals, but it is a far higher standard than I had envisioned. Nevertheless, Dean makes a persuasive case:

It appears that only if Judge Bybee were found guilty of a war crime is it likely he could be impeached and this would require that he joined his former deputy John Yoo, and others, in some sort of collusive action to enable the White House and CIA to engage in torture. While it is impossible to disagree with The Times’ negative assessment of Judge Bybee’s judicial temperament, and while it is clear that had the Senate known of these memos at the time of his confirmation he would not be on the federal bench today, it is going to take much more than his demented thinking as evidenced by his torture memos to remove him from the safe harbor where George W. Bush placed him.

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